Austria recognises third gender option in official documents

Intersex activist Alex Jurgen (R) receives Austria's first-ever documents recognising a third gender option.

An Austrian intersex activist has been issued non-binary documents featuring a third gender option, a first for the country.

The individual, identified as Alex Jürgen in a press release from Austrian rights group Lambda, received the documents on Tuesday (May 14).

The 42-year-old had been fighting a legal battle to have their non-binary gender appropriately recognised in the official documents.

Jürgen’s passport now features “X” as the gender marker, while their birth certificate uses the term “divers,” which can be roughly translated from German as “miscellaneous” or “other.”

Third gender option recognised by Austria’s constitutional Court

Austria’s Constitutional Court ruled in June that citizens have a right to have their gender identity accurately reflected in official documents, allowing for more than just the “male” or “female” options.

For the birth certificate, the court declared the terms “inter,” “open” and “divers” to be acceptable, but Austrian Minister of Interior Herbert Kickl decided in December that civil registries should only use the term “divers” to identify a third gender option, which can only be recognised when the individual presents a certificate from a panel of doctors attesting to their intersexuality.

Alex Jürgen's passport now shows the third gender option "X."

Alex Jürgen’s passport now shows the third gender option “X.” (Supplied)

Jürgen, who wishes to have the term “inter” on their birth certificate, will return to the courts to have this right enforced.

“We are delighted at the historic issuance of the first documents certifying a third gender,” said Lambda president Dr. Helmut Graupner, who advised Jürgen during the legal battle. He also accused Kickl of ordering civil registry offices “to break the law” in limiting the choice of terminology in the documents.

“We say thank you and heartfelt congratulations to our courageous role model and fellow activist!”

— Tinou Ponzer

The documents Jürgen received are nonetheless a historic first for Austria, and fellow intersex activists congratulated the campaigner on the achievement.

“We say thank you and heartfelt congratulations to our courageous role model and fellow activist!” Tinou Ponzer, from the Association of Intersex People Austria (VIMÖ), said in a statement.

Gabriele Rothuber, Intersex Representative of HOSI Salzburg, added: “We are very pleased for Alex Jürgen, who revolutionised Austrian vital records with his lawyer Dr. Graupner.”